David Howell

David Howell

David Howell
Emeritus Professor

At UVM 1967-2002
  • B.A. Middlebury College, 1963
  • M.S. Tulane University, 1965
  • Ph.D. Tulane University, 1967
Contact Information
Email: david.howell@uvm.edu

A Brief History

I grew up near Buffalo and attended Middlebury. From there I did my graduate work at Tulane (in verbal memory, of all things). I came to UVM in 1967, just as the department was beginning to grow. Don Forgays was the chair, and after I had arrived he suddenly remembered that he would need someone to teach statistics. I had some minimal background in statistics, so I found myself taking on the graduate course in statistical methods.

That was the best thing that he could have done for me. I loved teaching the course, but I couldn't find any text that I liked, so I wrote one. That sold well, so I wrote another one. I have been working on those texts ever since, and even though I am retired I spend an average of about four hours a day writing.

In addition to writing texts, I worked with a wide variety of people over the years on research projects. The longest association was with Bruce Compas, who was probably the best teacher I ever knew and had the clearest view of where his research was leading. But every time you work on a new project you find new techniques which you need to learn. That's what made it so much fun.

While I was at UVM I did just about everything. I was department chair (twice), the interim Dean of Arts and Sciences (my favorite job), the chair of the Faculty Senate, the Grievance Coordinator, and a member of just about every college and university committee. I certainly wasn't bored.

I retired in 2002 because the Provost put together a terrific buy out package that I couldn't pass up. (Unfortunately, the university couldn't afford it either, but we'll die off soon enough and relieve the University of some of its burden.) We first moved to Austin, Texas, and then to Colorado.

My wife and I now live in St. George, Utah, in the very southwest corner of the state. We lived for 10 years in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which is a couple of miles west of the Continental Divide. Aside from skiing and hiking, which I did a lot, I spend a great deal of time writing. I maintain a large set of web pages, which can be reached at www.uvm.edu/~dhowell/StatPages/. Once you retire everyone thinks that you will have plenty of time to write a chapter for their book, review papers, etc. I have published more since I retired than in the previous 10-15 years, and don't want to quit. A few years ago Brian Everitt (University College, London) and I edited a four volume encyclopedia of statistics for the behavioral science for Wiley. There is no better way to learn what is going on in the field than to edit chapters and entries from about 400 authors. And no more frustrating thing than to worry about whether they will get them in on time.

Official Retirement Citation (2002)

David Howell, you arrived at the University of Vermont in 1967 and have spent your entire career at UVM with distinction, energy and enthusiasm. Every year you taught the year-long graduate course in statistics. You taught Learning, Psychological Research Methods and Design, History of Psychology and the Teacher-Advisor Program course Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. Aimed at first-year students, you stated "this course is definitely not a statistics course in the traditional sense, but ... a course designed to ask how we evaluate and understand what we read in the paper, see on television, or hear on the radio. The emphasis is ... how we interpret the statistics ... presented to us." We should all have taken this course, since we often make wrong inferences from data presented to us each day.

You served as Chair of the Faculty Senate (1993-1995), Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (1988-1990), and Chair of the Psychology Department (1987-1988, 1990-1992, and 2000 to the present).

You published two major textbooks. Statistical Methods for Psychology is in its 5th edition, and is one of the best selling graduate level statistics texts in psychology. Fundamental Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences, written for the undergraduate, will be printed as the 5th edition. A reviewer called it "The King of Statistics Books...This is the very best book on statistics I've ever seen". You also contributed important methodological advancements research programs and publications with your colleagues across the campus.

Your students and colleagues thank you for your exceptional contribution to the university community and to education internationally. We all wish you well in your new home in Austin, Texas where you will continue to write and maintain an extensive collection of web pages.


Encyclopedia of Statistics for Behavioral Science Encyclopedia of Statistics for Behavioral Sciences
Fundamental Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences, 7ed. Fundamental Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences, 7ed.
Statistical Methods for Psychology, 7ed. Statistical Methods for Psychology, 7ed.

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